John and his daughter Katie stayed in a small town where they got to rest, they have been traveling all across the land and decided to have a rest in a small town they came across.
He went into asking for a hotel he can rent but he was told there were no hotels in this small town.
As John was asking around for a place to stay, he was approached by a man with a calm look on his face, he offered him to stay at his home and bring his daughter along, saying it's the least he can do.
John went with the man, he asked for his name. The man seemed to get a bit anxious, and then replied: "You can call me with whatever you like, sir."
John and his daughter exchanged looks, the man looked back at them and realized he made them feel alert, he glanced at a coffee shop across the street with a sign that read "James's coffee"
He smiled and said, "I'm James, sorry if I made you feel unwelcomed." The man who called James itched the back of his head embarrassed at his own obliviousness for not thinking this through.
John gave him an assuring smile saying "it's no issue, Mr. James." They all continued to walk to a porch of an average house, nothing too special about it, with a small garden of flowers at it's from the yard.
"You have a beautiful garden, Mr. James!" Said Katie.
"Thank you, Miss...?" He asked as he unlocked the door with a click sound, pushing the door forward.
"Katie." She smiled.
"What a beautiful name you have there." He spoke as he leads them in, the house was well kept and clean.
"Please sit down." He made sure they got comfortable before he took their bags upstairs.
"He looks like a really nice guy." Said Katie.
"Yeah seems like it." Spoke her John. "I'll go check on our room upstairs." He said as he got up and followed James upstairs.
Once he reached the second floor, he saw James coming out of a room and approached John saying "Here are the keys to your room Mr. John, I have only one spare room with two beds on top of each other. I hope it's okay."
"You mean bunk beds?" He asked.
"Ah... Yes, bunk beds." He gave an awkward smile.
"It will be more than fine Mr. James."
"Just James is fine." He said as he leads upstairs. "Same." Replied John.
Katie was interested in the picture of a small Creek in a forest.
James's question took both of their attention.
"I'll be making dinner, you can rest upstairs till I get it all done. Is there anything specific you want?"
"Spaghetti and meatballs!" Cried Katie throwing an arm up in the air.
Her father turned his head towards her glaring, which made her retreat her excitement.
"If that's okay by you. We don't want to burden you" She looked at James then her dad who sighed in disappointment.
"Spaghetti it is." He grinned nodding at her.
John motioned his daughter to follow him upstairs and she followed "don't forget the meatballs!" She whispered raising her thumb at him with a big grin and hurrying after John.
James chuckled and went into the kitchen.
It took John and Katie a couple of hours to unpack as they took their time while chatting about school and Katie's friends.
There was a soft knock on the door and a calm voice saying "Mr. John, Miss Katie, dinner is ready."
"I didn't even hear him coming." Whispered Katie giggling.
In a few minutes, the three of them sat at a table, James serving them each.
"I'm not the best cook but I hope you like it." Spoke James.
Katie took the first bite and said: "it's great!" And she wolfed down the food.
Her father John started a small conversation with a simple question "So James, you live alone here?"
James raised his head replying with a small smile. "Yes, I'm the only one."
John nodded "I see." James looked back at the paintings on the wall.
The room went silent with nothing but the sounds of silverware unintentionally hitting the plates.
John cleared his throat and tried again. "You've always been by yourself?"
James glanced back at him before turning his head and saying "Yes, as long as I can remember."
"As long as you can remember?" Highlighted Katie. "Do you have amnesia?"
"A- am-" he was confused for a moment "oh, yes, I can't remember much." He lowered his head on the plate in front of him.
His words made John feel a pain in his chest for his words.
"I'm sorry to hear that, my mother had Alzheimer as she got old, she had a hard time recognizing me or any of my brothers."
"Did she remember you before?" Asked James his gaze looked up across the table where John was.
"Yes... Before the illness."
"I see. I hope she gets better." He didn't meet his eyes again.
"It's... unlikely, but thank you." He replied.
James then turned to Katie and smiled "What about your mother Miss Katie? Is she well and sound?"
"Mum? Yeah, she is good." Her words were a bit muffled with the food chewing inside her mouth. "She got busy with the charity, she had to pass." James leaned in, interested in Katie's talk.
She finally swallowed the food and could speak clearly.
"Charity... She sounds like a kind lady." John noticed that James didn't touch the food in front of him yet.
"Yeah, I want to like... Help people the way she does."
"You haven't touched your food, James. Aren't you going to eat with us?"
James pulled himself back and his eyes were on John saying "I'm sorry, I'm not really hungry right now."
"Really? But you cooked it! And it's really good!" Said Katie.
"Thank you, but I have a bad habit of eating a bit while cooking."
John laughed and said "My wife does that too. Once ate two people's serving of meat on her own." Both John and Katie laughed.
"I dunno where she's hiding all that food really." He joked.
"You're one to talk dad." Laughed Katie.
"You're the one wolfing the food not me." He got back at her with a smirk on his face.
Katie rolled eyes smiling and turned to James. Asking "what about you Mr. James? How is your mum?"
James's smile faded away as he looked anxious, uncertain of what to answer. "My mum" he chuckled, smiled and looked down at his plate then away at the paintings again.
Katie realized she asked something she shouldn't have.
"I'm sorry if we brought up something painful." Spoke John in a soft tone hoping for some damage control.
"No no, it's fine. It's not a painful memory, I just... Don't know much about her. Never really met." He forced a smile on his face.
"Sorry..." Said Katie lowering the silverware from her hands.
"Oh no, it's fine, really. No harm was done." He forced a grin, glancing back at James who still seemed unhappy.
A few moments passed with the air feeling heavy. Until James broke the silence "Could you tell me more about yourselves?" Resting his chin on the back -of his hands.
"I work an office job, got to finally have some father-daughter time with Katie. We're heading for a resort not too far from here. Jane will follow us after the Charity event is over." He spoke as he pushed the empty plate slightly forward
James got up, "Jane? Is that you're wife's name?"
He took his dish in hand and walked to John, taking his empty plate too. "What about you Katie?"
Kate, quickly finish her dish for James to pick it up too and said with a full mouth "I'm majoring in Art, wanna be a graphic designer."
"That sounds fantastic." Smiled James and picked up her plate and putting them in the kitchen's sink.
John and Katie helped with cleaning up the table and Katie decided to do the dishes, though James insisted he'd do it.
John then went out to check on his car. Katie stood across the room with James putting the food in small boxes as he cooked too much. She went to the sink to wash the few plates in it.
She wanted to ask something but she was hesitant "Can I ask you... Something personal?"
"If you want Miss Katie." Replied James.
"Just Katie is fine." She felt awkward every time he used that title.
"You're a lot like your father I noticed." He remarked.
"Yeah, my mum says that too. How does it feel like to be alone?"
"I don't mean to be rude, but I always wondered what it would be like to be alone from the start?"
James sighed and spoke, "I wish I knew, Katie."
Katie facepalm had a high ring to it "Oh right, sorry I forgot you had amnesia."
"Could you explain to me what is Amnesia?" He asked.
At that moment, John walked in and said "no gas at the gas station, we're out of luck today. Well for a couple of days, gas isn't coming soon either." He took off his coat and focused on James. "Do you mind if we stay here for a couple of days?" He asked.
"No, make yourselves at home." He grinned. Katie raised an eyebrow at the man, she wasn't sure what to make out of him. He seemed like a nice guy, but she didn't quite understand him.
At night, Katie was in her room sketching James's face while her dad sat across the bed checking his phone for the weather.
She was done doing an identical sketchy portrait of him.
"Hey Dad, look at this."
"You drew James."
"Yeah! I want to give it to him since y'know, he's letting us stay." She hopped off the bed, excited.
"Go ahead then, he's probably downstairs."
Katie headed downstairs looking for James, looking right and left for James, she checked the living room, but no one was there, she checked the kitchen but he wasn't there either.
"Maybe he's in his room." She said to herself.
Katie went upstairs again and headed to the room right in front of the stairs and knocked on the door.
"James?" She knocked again "Are you in there?" She waited for a bit but no reply.
She turned around only to be frightened by James standing right behind her. "Gah! Oh my God!" She stuck her back to the door, breathing frantically.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." He spoke softly.
"I didn't even hear you walk up behind me!" She sighed calming down. "Where... Did you come from? I couldn't find you downstairs."
"I heard you calling me so I came to see, is there something wrong?"
"Oh yeah! I wanted to show you this" she showed the sketch to him and his eyes widened curiously.
"It is!" She smiled.
"You made it?" He was blown away by how it looked familiar to him.
"Yeah, do you like it?"
He smiled "I do." And he pointed the paper at her.
"Take it, it's yours now." Said Katie gently pushing it back to him.
"This... for me?"
"It's thanks from me for allowing us to stay here. It's the least I can do really!" She grinned.
She was about to say "you're welcome" but he wasn't finished "I was never given anything before... It... Really means a lot to me." He covered his eyes, they were getting watery.
Katie was unsure how to react, she never had someone cry over a simple thing like this.
"Mr. James?..." She reached for his arm.
"I'm fine, I'm fine. I just... Got a little emotional." He brushed it off laughing.
"I'll cherish it till the day I'm gone." He smiled. He reached his hand for the doorknob which Katie took a hint for and moved away from the door.
"Thank you again, Katie."
He finally closed the door, with a smile that broke Katie's heart. This man's smile told that he never received kindness nor love before.
Katie quietly went back to her room, the place around her felt much darker and sadder than it was before.
She opened the door to their room and her father greeted her putting down his phone "how did it go?"
She didn't reply at first, she sat on the bed first collecting her thoughts and said: "it was strange..."
"Strange how?" He raised an eyebrow.
"He cried, when I gave him the picture, with real tears."
"See? Your art makes people happy. Just like your mum said." He joked getting up and sitting beside her.
"No dad that's not how it works, he also said that he was never given anything before and became emotional and kept thanking me after that. It was really... Sad."
"Well, we don't know what he has been through, maybe that's why he was so happy about it." He kissed her forehead, bringing her closer to him.
"Let's get some rest okay? It's been a long day."
"I want to have the top bunker! Please?" She wrapped her arms around her father.
"You didn't have to ask, I can't go up and down every time I want a nap. Also, there is no ladder." He chuckled.
"Thanks, Dad! You rock." She said she hurriedly jumped up to the top bed lifting herself up with her arms, and finally lying on the not so soft bed, but it was comfortable enough.
"Night!" She cooed.
"I'm not closing the lights." Said her dad as he wrapped himself in the blanket.
"Oh come on!"